Imagine a community where all residents have easy access to
information, services, and businesses. The EmpowerNet program provides low-income
residents of an inner-city with home access to business and service networks. At the same
time, this program builds the ability of small businesses and non-profit organizations to
serve a community through the Internet.
EmpowerNet is a unique approach sponsored by the MTTC and the
University of Louisville Sustainable Urban Neighborhoods (UL-SUN) with funding from the
Gheens Foundation to empower residents to change the future. We believe that people
with home access to services, business opportunities, and global information resources
will be more successful than those lacking access. This program tests that supposition.
Louisvilles Enterprise Community is a land of decayed
opportunity nearly half live below the poverty level. As a state, Kentucky is near
the bottom in computer ownership and Internet use. Of the fifty largest cities, Louisville
is last in the percentage of residents with Internet connections. It is a community with
meager hope for the future.
EmpowerNet has established: (1) a Community EmpowerNet
system where residents can gain computer literacy and home computers; (2) Non-Profit
EmpowerNet through which non-profits can have Internet access, training to improve
their operations, and connections with other non-profit and global resources; and (3) Business
EmpowerNet where small businesses can effectively apply and access technology. In all
three approaches, non-profit partners are using Internet resources to improve the delivery
of existing services.
The existing system includes 27 non-profit organizations throughout
the Louisville Empowerment Zone who have each received MTTC computers that are networked
to each other and the Internet. The non-profit partners provide training sites for their
neighborhoods. In addition, through additional funding from the Gheens Foundation,
each site provides partial scholarships to members to obtain training and computers from
the MTTC Outreach Computer Resources program. Each center has Internet work stations for
those who cannot achieve home access. Even the homeless will improve their chances for
staying connected to the future by using resources provided through